With the Fall/Winter 2013 debut of EDUN’s menswear collection, we decided to take a moment and catch up with men’s designer, Ricky Hendry on the philosophy behind the new initiative and the challenges EDUN faced in manufacturing and producing the line in Africa alongside the positive impact on the economy it has provided.
Read our interview with EDUN’s menswear designer, Ricky Hendry below.
How do you implement your own design philosophy and aesthetics into a brand with such a focused message? Are the design and message mutually exclusive?
You have to be careful not to confuse the ethics with the aesthetics. While the brand mission and message is about promoting trade in Africa through manufacturing there, a brand that manufactures in Italy or India doesn’t necessarily let that inform its design or aesthetics. It’s no different with EDUN; we’re focused on presenting a unique and compelling design vision, and we also happen to have a powerful message behind the brand. You could say it’s two sides of the same coin.
Have you faced any unexpected challenges with regards to manufacturing a large portion of the clothing in Africa? Any unexpected benefits?
Timing has been one of our greatest challenges. Africa works at a different pace than us, which can be at odds with how unforgivingly quick the fashion calendar is. We are still learning. The real benefit is creating jobs and affecting people’s lives by giving our manufacturing partners larger and larger orders.
Has working with EDUN changed your views on the fashion industry’s usual manufacturing process? How so?
Working at EDUN provides an opportunity to see how manufacturing affects the people and places involved in the process. EDUN is about responsible trade, which is a real way to offer positive change to the developing economies we produce in. It’s fair to say that’s not norm in the fashion industry, but we hope that it will be.
Why should other companies consider operating in Africa?
I really believe they will as soon as it’s accepted that it’s possible to produce a high quality product in Africa. Manufacturing in China wasn’t easy 20 years ago, but it’s the norm now. Part of EDUN’s mission is to prove it is possible and to play a part in teaching skill transfer with our partners in Africa so other designers follow.
How has designing for EDUN differed from designing for ISAORA or Theory?
Design is both a process and a product. The process is essentially the same, but each brand has its own DNA and codes that should be reflected in the product and I have to respect that. EDUN has its own unique identity that is different than isaora or any other brand I’ve worked with and it’s about making the right design decisions that reinforce that identity.
What can we expect from EDUN’s menswear line in the future?
I hope great things! It’s still a young brand finding its voice in the marketplace, but as it grows we have the opportunity to present a broader range of products to our customer. Eventually I think that means a full lifestyle proposal, in the meantime we’ll keep working to identify and develop new partners in Africa that will allow us to add the right products for the right reasons.
How does the design process differ when working on a collaboration collection like the upcoming denim collection with Diesel?
The line is entirely co-branded and co-designed; we have worked closely every step of the process to celebrate Africa’s creativity: from style, to fabric to craftsmanship. The main difference with a collaboration like this is there are a lot more opinions and points of view to deal with, Fortunately the Diesel crew are a great bunch and we saw eye to eye on most things.
Is there a certain type of man you have in mind when designing a collection for EDUN? What is he like?
The EDUN guy rejects convention, he’s creative and independent and is at home in the world. He believes the choices he makes make a difference. Every season he evolves; he is always taking on new cultural influences.